Northern Ireland news

Mick Lynch: Rail union boss names James Connolly as his political hero

Mick Lynch, General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union. Picture by Yui Mok, Press Association

TRADE union leader Mick Lynch, head of the union leading the biggest rail strike in Britain in decades, has named Easter Rising leader James Connolly as his hero.

Mr Lynch (60), secretary-general of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), mentioned Connolly, an Irish republican and trade union leader, on ITV's politics programme, Peston.

"(He was) a socialist republican," he said.

"He educated himself and started non-sectarian trade unionism in Ireland and he was a hero of the Irish revolution."

Connolly, who founded the Irish Labour Party, was one of the signatories of the Proclamation and led the Dublin Brigade in the Rising. He was later executed. Connolly had close links with Belfast. From 1911 until his execution he and his family lived at Glenalina Terrace on the Falls Road in the west of the city. The James Connolly Visitor Centre on the Falls Road was established several years ago.

Railway workers across Britain are holding a three-day strike this week over pay, redundancies and changes to working practices in the biggest rail strike in more than 30 years. The RMT said it wants a pay rise to match the cost of living and has called an offer of two per cent - with the possibility of another one per cent - "unacceptable".

Thousands of workers took part in the second day of the strike yesterday.

Mr Lynch, who became head of the RMT in May 2021, has become the most prominent spokesman for striking rail workers.

Born in 1962 to Irish parents who moved to London during the Second World War, he previously said he and his four siblings grew up in "rented rooms that would now be called slums, the old tin bath and shared toilet with other families".

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